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No results changed in county’s final tally

Winners were still winners Wednesday after machine-scannedballots and those counted by hand were combined to produce finalLincoln County results from Tuesday’s election.

Almost 900 ballots, made from a copy machine after 12 precinctsran out of ballots Tuesday, were counted Tuesday night andWednesday morning and added to other vote totals calculated bymachine Tuesday night. Final totals from six contested races andsix uncontested races were determined shortly after 5 p.m.Wednesday.

The outcomes of Tuesday’s election were not changed as only thefinal vote totals for candidates were different. Overall, more than10,700 people voted in Tuesday’s election, which represented avoter turnout of approximately 47 percent.

District 1 Election Commissioner John Hightower, chairman of thecounty’s election commission, promised “never again” Wednesdayfollowing the confusion that surrounded this year’s election.

“It’s embarrassing. It hasn’t happened in a long time,”Hightower said, referring to the need to hand-count ballots aftersome precincts ran out.

The 874 ballots that had to be hand-counted were divided amongthe Zetus, Arlington, Johnson Grove, Old Brook, Loyd Star,Norfield, Vaughn, Montgomery, Pearlhaven and Brignal, with the LoydStar precinct’s 425 accounting for almost half of that total. A fewraces in the Loyd Star and Vaughn precincts had to be counted againWednesday after Tuesday night’s tally sheets from those contestswere misplaced.

Election officials said they would do better in the future.

“We definitely will,” Hightower said. “That won’t happen anymore.”

In the races, Republican U.S. Senate Thad Cochran defeatedReform Party challenger Shawn O’Hara 8,708 to 1,380.

In the hotly-contested race for 3rd District U.S.Representative, Republican Chip Pickering had 6,268 votes to 4,095for Democrat Ronnie Shows, with less than 150 other votes dividedamong four other candidates. Pickering captured approximately 59.6percent of the vote in that race.

Incumbent 14th District Circuit Court Judges Keith Starrett andMike Smith retained their seats with the help of 6,285 and 5,056Lincoln County votes, respectively. Attorney Charles Miller got2,208 votes and attorney Jack Price had 6,285 votes.

The court district also includes Pike and Walthall counties.

In a closely-watched race for a seat on the state Supreme Court,Gulfport attorney Jess Dickinson led the Lincoln County ticket with5,896 votes to 2,179 for chancery court Judge Larry Buffington and2,087 votes for incumbent Justice Chuck McRae. Lincoln County’sresults mirrored those of the entire Southern court district.

Also involving judges, a constitutional amendment to increasechancery and circuit court judges’ terms from four years to sixyears was defeated in Lincoln County and statewide. The countytotal was 6,594 no and 3.513 yes.

Another race on the county ballot saw Steve Rushing defeatincumbent James Keen for a spot on the Lincoln County School Boardfrom Educational District 4. In the contest that involved theArlington and West Lincoln precincts and parts of the Johnson Groveand Zetus precincts, Rushing garnered 677 votes and Keen 244.

Some unopposed candidates on Tuesday’s ballot were not exactlywithout opposition as voters occasionally included some interestingwrite-in choices.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Case Watkins said AssistantDistrict Attorney Diane Jones received a write-in vote against herboss Danny Smith in a special election for that office, and Hitlergot a vote against 15th District Chancery Court Judge Ed Patten inhis race. Watkins said those and other write-in candidates’ nameswere included under a general “write-in” category total in thoseraces.

Four of five county election commissioners certified totalsaround 5:20 p.m. Wednesday. District 4 Election CommissionerCharles Smith, who was unable to assist yesterday because of workcommitments, was to come by Thursday to sign off on results beforethey are sent to the Secretary of State’s office.

While final totals were late arriving for the county, Hightowersaid they should arrive early at the state level. He said thecounty’s small size allows the certification process to be donequickly.

“Ours will probably be one of the first in,” Hightower said.